For more information, contact:
Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition/GusNIP Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical
Assistance, Evaluation, and Information Center (NTAE)
Amy Yaroch, Project Director GusNIP NTAE (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Courtney Freitag, Marketing Communications Manager (email@example.com)
U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Faith Peppers, Director of Communications (firstname.lastname@example.org)
OMAHA, Neb., June 6, 2023 – The Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation, and Information Center (NTAE) has released Year 3 (2021-2022) evaluation impact findings for the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). GusNIP supports projects that distribute financial incentives to consumers with low income to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables.
Participants receiving nutrition incentives and produce prescriptions through GusNIP projects reported higher fruit and vegetable intake than the average U.S. adult. Projects funded in Year 3 through GusNIP (primarily non-profits, food banks, health clinics and other community-based organizations) provided twice the dollar value of incentives at double the number of sites as Year 2. This totals $85 million in local economic impact—a tenfold increase since Year 1 findings. Findings also indicate a decrease in food insecurity associated with GusNIP participation.
“It is gratifying to see the positive results we saw in year 2 trend into year 3, as far as continued improvement in fruit and vegetable intake and food security among those participating in GusNIP nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs,” said Dr. Amy Lazarus Yaroch, executive director at the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition and project director of the GusNIP NTAE. “And kudos to the GusNIP grantees for all their hard work and passion in implementing these important programs to help promote nutrition security among people with low income.”
This vital GusNIP program evaluation component allows grantees to collect important data and receive personalized support to modify and improve future programming. Food retailers, healthcare providers and clinics, as well as GusNIP grantees such as nonprofits, work together to better understand and improve the health and nutrition status of participants. This collaboration helps bolster program participation, infuse money into local economies, and support local farmers.
“Since its creation, GusNIP projects have worked to increase access to healthy foods, and these findings are proof of the program’s success,” said Dr. Suzanne Stluka, deputy director of NIFA’s Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition. “It is wonderful to see the impact the program has had in helping more families increase their access to locally grown fruits and vegetables.”
This competitive grant program makes healthy foods—specifically fruits and vegetables—more affordable and accessible to low-income consumers who participate by purchasing through grocery stores, farmers markets, and other food retailers. From 2019 through fiscal year 2021, USDA NIFA funded 115 GusNIP awards: 71 nutrition incentive (NI) and 44 produce prescription projects (PPR). Awards range from $40,000 to $12.5 million over one to four years each.
"Getting incentives out into communities is crucial, and GusNIP also strengthens long-term impacts through program and evaluation technical assistance, data collection and capacity building for grantee organizations implementing these on-the-ground programs,” said Holly Parker, chief strategy and program officer at Fair Food Network. “The more we can facilitate skill building and networking among the grantees now, the more GusNIP funding will create long-term success."
GusNIP funding supports three areas:
- Nutrition Incentive projects that provide incentives to individuals using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) benefits to purchase fruits and vegetables. Year 3 GusNIP NI projects reached more than 146,000 participants monthly, redeeming $41 million in incentives at local food retail outlets and clinics. GusNIP grantees continued to allocate a large proportion of their budgets toward direct incentives in Year 3 (73%); up 5% from Year 1.
- Produce Prescription projects that provide incentives via prescriptions to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables among people experiencing low income and with heightened risk for diet-related chronic disease. The Year 3 GusNIP PPR projects enrolled 1,986 participants monthly. Year 3 GusNIP NI and PPR sites were in communities where an average of approximately 15% of the population’s incomes were below the federal poverty limit. Across the U.S., 11% of the population has income below the federal poverty limit, which demonstrates GusNIP’s reach to communities with high levels of people experiencing poverty.
- The GusNIP NTAE Center provides training, technical assistance, reporting, and evaluation services that provide support to a growing number of grantees and applicants. Services include grant planning, one-on-one support, webinars, survey development, and collecting and reporting healthcare-related data. The NTAE also secured external, non-federal funding to conduct sub-studies on the impact of both NI and PPR projects for participants and sites involved, with results forthcoming.
About the GusNIP NTAE Center and Nutrition Incentive Hub
The GusNIP NTAE Center is led by the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, a nonprofit research organization with expertise in the measurement and evaluation of nutrition-related programs. In partnership with Fair Food Network, a national nonprofit and investor that grows community health and wealth through food, they assembled the Nutrition Incentive Hub, a coalition of partners that supports nutrition incentive and produce prescription projects. Partners include practitioners, grocery and farmers market experts, researchers, and evaluators from across the country dedicated to strengthening and uniting the best practices to increase access to affordable, healthy food to those who need it most.
The GusNIP NTAE Center is funded through a cooperative agreement and is supported by Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program grant no. 2019-70030-30415/project accession no. 1020863 from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information about the Nutrition Incentive Hub, please visit www.nutritionincentivehub.org.